Re: Associate Members
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2001 15:55:01 -0600 (MDT)
At RoseWind in Port Townsend WA we have two different related situations: 

Neighbor Family bought the land across the street from us, with an 
upfront interest in associating themselves with our project. Money was 
not a problem for them, and they had not only a strong interest but 
brought many relevant skills. And are great people! 

After some debate and working out, we made a contract with them, 
referring to it as an Exchange Membership (don't know why). The essence 
of it is that in all ways but those related to their private land, they 
are full members. They paid a "common house share" of $10,000 (analogous 
to the part of members' buy-in money that went for that purpose) and 
designated a couple of walking trail easements on their property. Split 
the legal costs of setting up the contract. They participate (and pay 
assessments) equally with the "regular" members. Nobody even thinks of 
them as a different sort of member, in our daily lives. If they sell 
their property, the new owners may become members if they renew the 
contract, but are not obliged to do so. This was a unique situation, and 
we dealt with it as such. 

Other than that, we have several de-facto social members, who are 
regularly at meals, work parties, and socials. One was a live-in partner 
with a member for a year or two, and then has spent a couple of years as 
a guest, house sitter, and renter at our various homes. He has 
volunteered A LOT. The other is the middle aged son of an elder member, 
and he lives a few houses away. He also has been very helpful to the 
group and individuals here. They have no named status, nor official 
privileges. We just all tacitly agree that they are welcome. 

This last year we have had unexpected legal bills that caused us to look 
around for sources of money. Several people thought "sell Associate 
Memberships." But that would be no goose laying golden eggs. It's an 
exchange, and the trade-offs merit attention.

People who are already using some of our facilities wouldn't think it 
very neighborly of us to tell them they had to either play frisbee 
elsewhere than our field or pay us something. It would probably also make 
it so that our insurance wouldn't cover them if they got hurt doing so, 
making liability suits more of a possibility. 

Spell out just what you are offering. Full privileges would entail more 
people wanting garden plots, more people having parties in the common 
house, their friends and family members at events. This could be fine, 
but be sure you have room. 

Would privileges offered be permanent, or for a set period of time, 
renewable/revocable? Does that put us in a sort of class system, We 
judging if They are still "worth it"? 

To designated individual(s) only, or can they, like the rest of us, 
assume their friends and family are welcome? (We had a neighbor we once 
came close to offering honorary membership for good reasons. She later 
took an alcoholic, abusive, violent husband who came with a large number 
of alcoholic relatives and buddies and their many rowdy children, who 
simply overran her home and the streets around it. Had they overrun the 
common house, we would have coped, but I'm glad we didn't have to.)

Do they participate in decision making? Do they pay full assessments, or 
a token fee?
Welcome at business meetings? discussion circles? sharing circles? Or are 
they really not equal members?

One could require WORK, rather than, or in addition to, money. Around 
here we need work more than we need money. 

One could require nothing, and bestow privileges or some named status out 
of some human motive (neigborliness, recognition of great service to the 
community, or of social affection). 

One could require blood relationship, or residence here, albeit as a 
non-owner, for x time, as in the case of a perennial renter, 
ex-domestic-partner/spouse, or housemate. 

In any event, it seems complicated to us. I look forward to hearing what 
others do. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature)

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